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Sight and Shadows by TalgoM Sight and Shadows
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Professor Alfred Winterburn started to leave the class to head to his small university office when he heard one of his students call out to him, loudly enough that it caused him to jump slightly in surprise. He turned to find his class's late addition; he couldn't quite recall her name, bounding down the isle. He didn't fail to miss either that a few of the boys in the room watched her, pausing in the task of gathering up their books. She paid them no heed stopping at his desk and dropping the black canvas briefcase off her shoulder and onto the table with an echoing thud in the cavern like room.
"I'm sorry sir. I know we haven't been introduced, my name is Tangye Gaarlihn." She held out her free hand still digging in her bag. She turned her bright dimpled smile up at him, she had a child's face but he had read her transcripts and knew that she was in fact older then most of his students. "I'm staying with a friend of yours right now, Dr. Derek Rayne. He asked me to pass this to you." She pulled out the thick leather bound tome from her bag.
He carefully took the book from her studying the embossed leather cover. He turned it slightly to the side and saw the yellowing pages. He admired the book no longer paying real attention to the young woman who had delivered it. He was still surprised that Derek had agreed to let him borrow it in the first place and was sure he wouldn't have been allowed to if he hadn't given his oath that nothing would harm it. He had never expected it to arrive via such means, assuming that Derek would have hand carried it himself to ensure its safety but the carrier mattered little to him. Now that it was in his hands he wanted to rush down the hall to the sanctuary of his office all the more. There was a mystery to unfold and those had always intrigued him more then living people being the cliché bookworm that he was.
"Have to say I'm glad to be rid of it, lugging it around all day was " Her voice trailed off noticing how he was staring distractedly at the book. "Great, big fun." She finished with a grin.
"Oh yes, I'm sorry to inconvenience you." He mumbled half heartily flipping through the pages carefully. They were brittle and brown with age and he feared they might crumble even with his gentle fingers just brushing against them. He didn't want to harm it at all, not see so much as a fleck of dust fall away from one of the precious pages.
"No problem, really. Dr. Rayne mentioned that it was important to a project you were working on. I have to admit I flipped through it." He looked up at her slightly shocked. She could see that he didn't think that was the right thing to do and tried to redeem herself. "I had a free hour, didn't have a book, I tend to read whatever is lying around, I didn't think it would " She stammered helplessly.
"You read it?" He asked shocked, not seeming to believe what he was hearing.
"Now I'm apologizing for that, along with that kinda rude yelling thing a minute ago." She looked down, closing up her bag. She couldn't believe how stupid she had been, she knew the language was difficult and she cursed herself for saying anything at all. The book was hundreds of years old and she had been flipping through it like it was one of her textbooks. 'He must think I have no respect for antiques, or others privacy for that matter,' she thought ruefully. This was certainly not the first impression that she was hoping to make on the respected scholar.
"No it's not that, it's, well, this is in a form of Pre-dynastic Egyptian writing, not something many people can read, myself included. You say you read this?" He turned his shocked eyes up to her. His face was lined with wrinkles and had little color to offset them with a look of life. This was a man who clearly spent a majority of his time indoors, probably in musty old libraries. The type of man who would probably give his eyeteeth to have one night in the Luna Foundation library on Angel Island.
"Parts, not all God knows, how could I do that?" Her light eyes shifted nervously.
"Right." He nodded though he admitted to himself he didn't understand. "Tell Derek that I appreciate him loaning this to me and I will return it as soon as the text I have is translated." He gingerly shut the cover of the book and drew it close to his chest in a protective gesture.
"If you don't mind me asking sir, how do you intend to use something you can't read to translate something else you can't read?" She pulled her bag back onto her shoulder.
"I have a translation of this, now I merely need to piece together the puzzle." He led her out of the classroom and to the hall. "I'm not sure I'll be able to do it but I must at least try. Derek mentioned that you were something of a translator yourself, which seems born out to me now." He patted the book. "Perhaps you might like to see the text next week after class? Maybe the parts you'll be able to read will be parts I, uh, can't translate?" He raised his eyebrows at her, hoping to get a response and satisfied by the nervousness he saw in her. Despite his lack of people skills he could tell when someone was hiding and it didn't really surprise him to see that she clearly was. Derek Rayne had always been a man of secrets and poorly veiled ruses, if she had fallen in with him she would probably wear the same cloak of deception.
"I didn't translate, just read, looked at pictures, you know. Whole thing big mass o' gibberish to this girl." The professor nodded as they reached his office door. "I mean I'm certainly not what anyone would call a genius, that's what it would take to read something like that. Or studying and I'm not often congratulated on my scholarly status. Not to say I won't try hard in your class. I will, it's just that, well I don't I, um, tend to " He held up his hand to stop the rambling she was engaged in. The young woman had an energy about her that the professor was definitely not prepared to deal with. Rather then even try he merely said a quick goodbye and disappeared behind the door.
Tangye stood in the hall a little surprised by the quick dismissal that was just short of being rude, but also relieved to have been released from the awkward moment of trying to explain herself. Derek had warned her that Alfred Winterburn was not what most considered a people person, always more interested in ancient texts then the going's on of his students unless it was a scholarly endeavor. Yet despite the preparation she had displayed the exact personality he probably found the most difficult to deal with. "Great, when did the yammering idiot take over your body Gaarlihn?" She mumbled as she continued down the hall, shaking her head in disgust at her own behavior. "Next time, give book, leave quickly."
Hours later Professor Winterburn sat in his office, with only a single dim lamp lighting the room, still studying the two texts. He was amazed and impressed that his plan had produced such quick results. He already had the first five pages of the text translated, which left him only about another fifty to complete. He found himself digging into the project anxiously, reading the stories over with great enthusiasm. The text seemed to tell the story of a small village plagued by some sort of nameless evil. Death came in great vigor, compiling quick numbers in the streets. Initially striking down all those in the town believed to be seers of some sort, first a gypsy village that bordered the town itself was slaughtered.
He had learned early on that the text was not as old as he initially believed due to the writing type, in fact this text was only a few hundred of years old instead of the thousands it should have been. He wondered absently how the author even had learned to write such an old and dead language, and more so why he chose to tell his story in it. Those were mysteries for another day though, right now he wanted to get to the end of the particularly difficult section he was working on.
The passage had lost most of its story telling element, and now seemed more instructional. He skipped over the difficult line at the beginning of the sixth page, instead opting to study the body of the text that looked to be written in the form of a poem. Flipping through the book that Derek had lent him he found the matching forms for the ones he was attempting to translate. "And I call on you to come. Great one of the fire and smoke." He paused to think over the symbol he was sure that he had already translated. "Bring with you punishment for the weak, redemption for the strong. Rid us of all those seeing that which is untrue. I beg of you now to teach us, guide us. Move us from light into the dark." He stopped confused by the words that he found himself reading out loud.
What was this nonsense? It began as a historical exposition and now entered into some foolishness like this? For the first time he had to face the possibility that the book he had found would prove to be no more valuable then it's age, and even that would have to be verified. He was disappointed to think all his work would go into translating some useless fiction that would reveal nothing from the past except the vividness of man's imagination. Yet at the same time there was something about the words that unsettled him. What if the author believed these words? What if he had felt they had some significance even if Alfred Winterburn knew this type of thing to be completely outside the realm of possibility. He knew that many older civilizations held strong beliefs about things that modern science had deemed illogical. Ghosts and demons were no more then creations of man's mind. Created there to justify evil that man was not willing to take responsibility for.
He sighed and set back to his work, putting aside the sense of dread that fought to settle over him and control his tongue. "With your blessing we shall be removed from " He struggled with the last word. "Bliss. Yes, bliss." Again he paused wondering over his own words. Something felt very wrong about what was happening but there was only one line left and he had come so far. Moving the book into better light he pressed on. "With your hand shall you break our spines and we may serve you Danareg." His voice caught over the last words of the ritual.
So it was as he suspected. Some ritual to call a demon into the world, one that clearly the author thought that he could control. He wondered if this so-called Danareg had merely provided an excuse for the author's own homicidal tendencies. Had he been the one who had brought so much death to the town and gypsy village? Then he recalled how the first pages of the text had seemed to hold such a sense of horror. It had described what occurred without any type of self-satisfaction that would have tinged his words if the author had been responsible willingly. He told the story outside of himself, something that he had watched happen never as an active participant. Then why would such a ritual appear? What was he trying to convey with the words?
His eyes shot to the top of the page to the line he had felt compelled to ignore and suddenly saw how easy it was to translate the short line. In hushed tones he forced the words out. "Here lie in the words never to be spoken, for that shall birth the evil we knew "
"And introduce only death." A voice from behind him finished the line for him. He never had the chance to turn and see death come for him. His scream was cut short, lost in the empty halls.
"For the most part I made an ass of myself. Most people won't accept that a twenty-five year old "
"Twenty-four." Nick corrected her absent addition of a year, even though it was only off by a few weeks. They sat in the control room with Derek. Tangye on one of the computer tables with her legs drawn up to her chest, Nick leaning back heavily in a chair, feet propped up by her. She shot him a quick bored glance at his interruption. Derek almost felt the urge to laugh at their interaction but withheld. He was pleased to see Nick behaving so comfortably with someone, this girl in particular he admitted. She would be good for Nick in his opinion and he almost laughed to think how parental his thoughts were. He knew he didn't need to push, their attraction was obvious both physically and mentally, they would find their own way to each other given time.
"Whatever. Point being he found it odd that I could just read the book, so I opted to become a dim-witted fool." She tried to sound proud of her choice but both men could clearly see that she was annoyed with her own behavior and had fallen into it without thinking what she was doing.
"Same thing." Nick again corrected.
"Don't help." She warned playfully. "What was I saying?" She leaned her head back.
"Dim-witted fool." Derek provided, he tried to hide the amusement in his voice. He could only imagine how Alfred had responded to this spirited young woman. Alfred was better with inanimate objects older then this country, he had probably been very nervous to even have to face her. Derek reminded himself to call his friend and apologize for the situation he had put him in. That aside he still he wished he could have seen Alfred's face as Tangye began rambling in that breathless manner of hers. He couldn't keep the smile off of his face just picturing it.
"Yep, that would be his first impression of me. Should keep him from thinking there's any weirdness about me though, any over smart weirdness anyhow, general me as weird I think I convinced him of. He's off my telepathic tail for now." She concluded. Derek nodded forcing himself to remain serious
"You do need to be more careful. If people begin to suspect what you are capable of " He started the lecture even though he was sure she didn't really need it. She had been living with her gift her whole life and obviously had become skilled enough in hiding it. Still he felt the need to remind her that it was not something to use to put people off balance. For some reason he could see that amusing her to no end, watching people stare at her shocked by the things she could come up with from seemingly nowhere.
"Derek just cause I can read dead languages I don't think many people will jump to the mind reading conclusion." She let the last word drag when Derek turned his stern eyes to her causing her to quickly go on. "But I'm probably wrong about that seeing how I'm a dim-witted fool and all." She completed with an innocent grin.
"I realize most people will not come to that conclusion of their own accord, but it is best not to give them any reason to want to come to conclusions at all. You need to continue on working on controlling your talents, tomorrow?" She nodded without mentioning her strong desire to have the day off. She attended classes and studied a good portion of the week and when she did seem to locate a few spare minutes Derek or Alex were always appearing to have another training session with her. She didn't feel comfortable complaining though, still feeling that she was abusing their hospitality and wanting to do anything to repay them. In an odd way they seemed to enjoy the training so she gave it to them.
Derek looked up and saw Philip standing on the other side of the hologram and remembered the priest had asked to have a few minutes alone with him earlier. He quickly dismissed Tangye and Nick and went to his office with Philip.
Alex sat at the desk in her room writing away hurriedly, enjoying the moments of privacy at the end of the day. She didn't feel at all rushed, she just felt that she had so much to say, to tell them, and so little time to do it in. She never meant to let it go this long without writing to her family back in New Orleans, but it always seemed to end up that way. She talked to her grandmother on a regular basis but she knew the elderly, vibrant woman enjoyed her letters and the detail she always went into in them. When she had realized that morning that she had not written since Tangye's arrival and Philip's return she had felt both guilty and anxious to spend the time telling so many interesting stories. She looked forward to her grandmother's own appraisal of both the new friend and the meaning of the old ones return. Somehow her Grandma Rose's perceptions always seemed more astute when she read Alex's written rather then heard the verbal descriptions.
'I knew when I called him that Philip would have to come back here. Nick was in danger and he has never been able to ignore that. It's so hard to watch them together now. Nick tries so hard to be angry with Philip all the time even when his instincts tell him to just give it up. How can he not see that Philip loves him as a brother? Why won't he let himself see that? I try to understand Nick, I know he has this wonderful giving heart I just wish he didn't try to guard it so closely. I hate seeing the way he fears himself when that all too familiar anger springs up in him. I try to remind him that he learned the lesson, that he won't repeat his father's sins but he doesn't seem able to listen. I know this is no news to you, I've been over all of this so many times with you but I still can't convince him how good he is.
'And Philip still hasn't forgiven himself forever causing Nick any pain. He always carries the weight of the world with him, wanting to solve everything and fearing that he can't solve anything. Just his voice makes things better for me so often. I will never forget his sermon at Julia's funeral service, how his words were so right, described her so perfectly and helped me let go of some of the pain. I wish I could find words like that to help him. To remind him that he doesn't have to face the whole world on his own. That no matter how far he goes he will always have a place here to return to. I know I've told you this but I love them all so dearly. I wish you would come here and met them. Look at the faces I've described to you so many times. Then you could see Philip's earnestness. Nick's stubbornness. The pain that they both carry. Maybe you would have the words for them to help as you always have for me.
'Now there is a new piece to the puzzle too. The young woman from the case we spoke about last month. She's no longer the child from your dreams, or at least I think you saw her as a child. She's a stunning twenty-four year old woman now with a rare talent. She seems able to see spirits that are lingering in the world even when they don't choose to be seen. She also seems to have a form of telepathy. I think you would like her, I know you would. We solved the case just in time, really she solved it for us. Her parents had died seven years ago and stayed with her. Eventually they changed from the loving people they had been and began torturing her. She has seen far too much pain but is fighting not to let that define her life. I think she will succeed too. She has an admirable stubborn streak.
'You might find this interesting. Nick's in love with her. Has been since he first saw her. She loves him right back too. Somehow that has breathed new life into the house. They haven't come forward with it, or even confessed it to each other but I can't exactly miss it. He's seemed more relaxed ever since she came along, even when he's fighting with Philip or Derek it doesn't have all of the old energy. Now he has something to put it into that's more worthwhile. She's been reminded of the joy the world can still hold despite all of the terrible things she has been put through. They are lucky, I hope I can find something to open me up like that again.
'I have many more stories to tell you, but as always not the time. I'll write soon and call sooner.
'All my love, Alex.'
She sat back in her chair looking over her neat script smiling to herself. Her grandmother knew them all so well through these letters and brief encounters. She flipped through the several pages of letter wondering what she had left out. She knew there was plenty but her grandmother had always displayed a talent for reading between the lines. She would understand everything the child she had raised was trying to communicate. Alex could also count on a response with many questions. Things that Rose would want to have her elaborate on so that she could learn even more.
Alex looked forward to that letter, interested to see what the elderly woman focused on after all the rambling thoughts that Alex had related. She carefully folded the letter and slipped it into the envelope she had already addressed. Standing up she brushed down the front of her pajamas. She dropped the letter down onto her purse so she wouldn't forget to take it with her in the morning when she went to run errands in the city. She was anticipating a day off from the Legacy and Luna Foundation duties. A day just to pamper herself.
She slid into bed, pulling the comforter up around herself snuggly, reaching out to turn the bedside lamp off. In the hall she heard sudden conversation. "Shut up, Boyle." Alex smiled to herself, hearing the playful aggravation holding no strength in Tangye's voice. "You know that's not what I'm saying."
"Just cause you're wrong I have to stop talking?" Nick answered trying to be frustrating.
"Yes that's exactly what I'm saying." Tangye answered quickly. "There's so much I must teach you." She laughed. Slowly their voices faded off down the stairs.
Derek sat down behind his desk after Philip had refused his offer to also have a seat, seeming to opt instead to pace the room like it was a cell he had been in too long. Derek didn't need to be told what was coming, he knew the look on the young priest's face well enough by now. It wasn't the first time that Philip had been forced into making this choice, and it seemed it had not gotten any easier. Philip agonized over the choice between the Legacy and church probably every day of his life. Derek hated himself for knowing that he was even a tiny part of the suffering that Philip went through, but the house always somehow felt more right for his presence and Derek couldn't let the subject of his return drop.
"Derek, I need ta be gettin' back to the church. Tangye seems ta be doin' much better, I don' think there's much left I can do for her that can't be done by someone else." Philip let the words trail off and took a deep breath seeming glad to finally have that said.
Derek wasn't prepared to let it go that easily. "Like Nick, perhaps?" Philip turned to look at his friend and mentor with wide blue eyes. He saw the knowledge in Derek's face and knew there was no point in hiding his feelings with this man who always seemed to know him so well. He admitted to himself that he had watched the bonds be formed between the young woman and the man once his best friend with some jealousy. Nick had opened up to her in the same way he had once opened up to Philip but now the exSEAL refused any such relationship with the priest. It hurt Philip to see that no longer did Nick need him, to see that he had found someone else. It made the break between them seem all the more final.
"I'll admit I was hopin' this visit would prove ta be the one where Nick and I worked everything out but it's not goin' ta happen. He's just not ready ta forgive me." Derek nodded sympathetically. "I've given him plenty of chances ta try and talk to me "
"But have you tried to talk to him?" Derek asked, his voice thick with his concern over the emotional status of his friend.
"I don' want ta push him. He's the one tha's hurtin'." Philip tried to defend his choice but it did little good. Derek knew him better then that.
"Philip don't do that. This rift hurts you, anyone can see that. It's Nick's anger that won't allow him to talk to you instead of yell. What keeps you from going to him?" Derek steepled his fingers and tapped them against his chin waiting. Philip struggled for the right words.
"He's just so angry with me. I don' want ta push him into somethin' he can't face right now. After everythin' that has happened to him " Philip began then noticed that Derek was sitting there shaking his head, clearly he wasn't buying this reasoning any more then Philip's other attempts.
"He needs you all the more. Don't you think he'd like to find out that someone in his life is willing to fight for him? That someone cares that much about him? It might cause him some pain but at the same time I think Nick can handle it. I'm more worried about you Philip. You lost Michael, I don't want to watch you lose another brother." Derek explained calmly. In his opinion this fight had been going on far too long and needed to find a resolution. It hurt two of his closest friends and introduced a pain to them that they did not need to learn.
Philip shook his head weakly, knowing that Derek was right but not sure that he could deal with all the angry words that would inevitably come before a breakthrough. "I don' want ta either, Derek but I can't hurt him anymore. He's happy righ' now, let's allow him that."
Derek nodded his agreement, knowing exactly what Philip meant. He hated to think of losing Philip all over again but had to let him choose his own path in life. He hadn't known how hard it was for a parent to let go of a child until Philip had walked out the door to a new life. Now he felt that he would only be graced with infrequent visits like any parent, and he didn't like knowing that. In his heart he knew where Philip belonged but until Philip's heart came to the same conclusion Derek knew he couldn't push. "So when will you be leaving?"
"Next week I think. Kristin's due back tomorrow, you'll all be fine." Derek didn't state his quick argument that no one could replace Philip in the house. An additional body wasn't all he was. "I should leave you to your work."
"Philip, tell me something. If you did stay now, why would you do it?" Derek asked softly.
"For Nick. Not for the Legacy." Derek nodded, knowing the answer all along.
"Then you should go." Derek said sadly and Philip looked away hating the pain in his friends eyes. He knew that Derek didn't mean the statement to be cruel, it was just the truth. If Philip stayed in the Legacy solely to focus on fixing things with Nick he could accidentally cause more pain. His mind wouldn't be on the work they had to do and someone would have to look out for his safety. They had that problem enough with Nick's often-reckless behavior. Derek was right and Philip knew how hard it was for the older man to admit that his place was not in the Legacy.
Kat Corrigan shook her head fitfully in her sleep. She didn't understand the images she saw there but knew in the pit of her stomach that they meant something bad was coming. The longer her mom was involved in the Legacy the better Kat seemed to understand her own gifts and that nothing in her world should ever be dismissed as mere imagination. Callie served as a perfect example of that. Her mom had thought she was no more then an invisible friend but then she had turned out to be an angry Egyptian princess who had tried to hurt Kat's friends in the Legacy.
Kat's young mind somehow easily wrapped around the truth that this dream was more then a dream, it was a warning. She wanted to wake up but also knew how important it was to learn as much as she could. Derek always pressed for details and too often Kat felt she was letting him down not knowing enough. He counted on Kat to know things and she wanted to be able to prove herself worthy of that, even if it meant staying asleep and enduring the nightmare.
The shadow crept along the streets in her mind. At the beginning of the dream he had been held by something, captured somehow but now he was free. First she had seen an old man reading a book then the shadow had appeared. Her child's heart knew something bad had happened to the old man, what she didn't know but it was bad. Now the shadow just lurked along seeming to search for something. Kat knew he was looking for people to hurt. She had the feeling he was looking for certain people.
She saw the brightly-lit city street, a shop door opened. Kat looked up as Alex stepped out onto the street seeming to enjoy the noonday sun on her face. She didn't see the shadow lurking in the alley not far from her but Kat did. Alex turned away and started to walk off down the street. Kat's small body lurched wanting to run forward and hold onto her friend. Tell her not to leave them. Alex was important to them and she couldn't walk away. The words wouldn't come though and Kat didn't seem able to move her body. Then the shadow moved forward and everything went dark.
Her scream reached the waking world and almost instantly her mom appeared and scooped her into her arms. She rocked Kat trying to get her to calm down but Kat just shook in her mother's protective hold. It had all been so real and she knew that Alex was in danger, they all were. The shadow was after someone and Kat was certain it wasn't just Alex. The shadow would go after all the Legacy members, he needed them gone for some reason.
"It's okay honey, it was just a dream." Kat nodded against her mother's chest wondering why her mom wouldn't ever believe her that these weren't just dreams. She didn't argue with her mother this time. It was better not to scare and worry her. Kat decided to call Derek the next day from school. Explain what she had seen to him, he would understand, he always did. He never just dismissed her dreams, he took them all seriously, sometimes when he didn't need to. Still the little girl liked the respect that Derek treated her with, always trusting her gut feelings.
Once Derek knew about what she had seen he could step in and protect them. He and Nick could protect them from anything, she knew that. They were so strong and had always won in Kat's mind. Why would this time be any different? They would know what to do and everything would be okay.
"I'm okay mom. It was just a dream." The little girl whispered wondering if her mother was beginning to doubt that simple explanation. Was she finally seeing that some things couldn't just be ignored? That there were things that Kat saw that she couldn't? She knew her mother believed in her gifts but they seemed to frighten her. It was just easier for her not to think about them.
"You want to tell me about it?" Rachel asked soothingly.
"No. I don't really remember it." Kat mumbled with a shake of her head. Why worry mom, the little girl asked herself? Derek and Nick could handle it, she would just tell them.
A darkness not human slowly made its way from the college campus into the shadowed corners of the city streets. The old man's blood helped sustain him but the creature knew in its blackened soul that it would need more to keep its tenuous hold on the living world. It needed strength. It would have to find one with the power, with a gift to help it survive. He looked over the blank faces of the people of this new world with disdain. Could they really all be so blind? Was this world so empty of his food?
He stayed in the shadows that were filled with more light then his form, still to any that thought perhaps they had seen him they would just convince themselves it was a trick of their mind. These close minded sheep would never consider that a shadow could indeed be a threat. His hungered mind anticipated gouging these people, of robbing them of their faith in the logical. Such an accomplishment to destroy such a world, and it would be so easy.
Soon though day would be upon him, the glaring sun would rob him of shadows to merge with. He had to find the proper food quickly if he was to remain. He had been called here by a non-believer, and that man was punished for the games he played. Still the creature was now free due to his mistake and the demon was not going to waste the chance. There was work to be done, blood to flood the streets with. First he had to find power and then his reign could begin, and this time he knew he would not be stopped. Not in a world lacking faith in the invisible.
He knocked softly on the door, not sure if the action would wake her. If she was asleep he didn't want to be the one to pull her from that peace. Almost instantly her response came back, causing him to smile. She had explained to him that she always knew when other people were nearby due to her gifts, why had he let himself forget that? He pushed open the door and stood as a silhouette in the doorway, the hallway light showering in across her features. He was sure she had not yet fallen asleep though all the lights in the room were off. She was beautiful lying there in bed under the heavy comforter, her light brown hair held back from her face for the night. Nick couldn't get over the attraction he felt for this woman, there was just something in her face that was so approachable, a comforting sort of beauty.
"I just wanted to say goodnight." He whispered not wanting to disturb the peace in the room. He shifted his stance from foot to foot, not sure what else he could say finally settling on, "goodnight."
"Goodnight, Nick." He lingered there in the doorway. His figure as much a beacon of strength to her in the quiet night as it had been from the first moment she saw him. There was just something so powerful about him that his size couldn't hide. His muscular arms and chest were clear under the gray T-shirt he wore, but what she saw in him went well beyond the physical. She knew that despite any hardship the world tossed at him so callously that Nick Boyle would always go down fighting. She respected that trait in him, the defiance about ever losing. She wondered who had taught him to hold that type of unwavering conviction and wished she could offer them her thanks for ensuring his survival with the lesson. She didn't know that she should rightfully hate the man that did it to him, that the lessons were too hard for the young boy still in Nick's heart. She had no idea that the teacher had often enough taken away Nick's will to press forward while forcing him to do just that. She didn't know that Nick now did what he did out of reflex more then belief in himself.
"Yeah, goodnight." He felt foolish but he didn't want to leave her. Nick had known for a long time that he belonged in the Legacy, now he was faced with the lingering truth that there was something else he should belong to. Finally with a sigh he started to turn away from the room to leave her alone.
"Nick are you tired?" Did the words really come out as desperate as they sounded to her ears? So needing? She blurted them out without thought and somehow their quickness made that painfully obvious. She was trying to keep him here, she couldn't guess how happy that made him.
"No, not really." He turned. She wasn't able to see the grin on his face due to the lack of front lighting on him. "You?" He asked casually stepping only slightly further into the room.
"Nope." She tried to sound natural, not so wanting. She pushed herself up in the bed finally turning the small bedside lamp on so they could clearly see each other. She wore a pair of deep apple green pajamas trimmed with green and adorned with a subtle floral print. He noticed the shirt discarded by the side of the bed that went with the set, leaving her only in the camisole and pants. There was a sheen to the fabric that had him wondering if it was satin or silk. "You want to talk for awhile?"
He nodded, cursing himself for seeming so eager. "Maybe I can put you to sleep with some of my more boring tales." He said lightly, hoping to ease some of the discomfort in the air.
"ExSEAL and Legacy member, I doubt many of your stories are that boring." She answered him with a grin. He started to cross over to the high back gold armchair across the room from the bed after shutting the door to the hall. "Nick, is this as awkward for you as it is for me?" He was surprised by her question but couldn't really deny the truth of her words. Still the last thing he wanted to do was make her feel uncomfortable in her own room.
"Maybe I should " Nick started but a short laugh from her cut him short.
"Not cower across the room? I don't bite." She pushed herself over on the bed some making room for him. He looked at the bed hesitantly, not sure what was being offered or what he would be willing to accept. Admitting the attraction was one thing, how much further was he ready to take things he didn't know. He knew what he wanted but what was right was often different.
"I don't cower Gaarlihn." He responded indignantly. He enjoyed these playful little arguments, it made him feel so familiar with her. He enjoyed joking with her, the way she picked on him, the way her smile and laughter would change the atmosphere in the room.
"Whatever you want to call it, it's just phrasing. I just don't think you have to sit all the way over there." He nodded, giving in to her finally. He crossed to the bed and climbed in with her, his back against the wall, refusing to allow himself to get too comfortable. She fought the distinct instinct to snuggle into his arms and turned to face him, now sitting cross-legged in the bed. "Okay Boyle, regale me with your tales." She said lightly.
He started telling her stories about various cases of the Legacy first. The incident with Emma, the scarab, Alex's vampire days when she was out to kill him. Gradually he found himself getting into the years he still wasn't comfortable talking about. The years Julia had been a member, and Philip as well. The days that had once been the happiest memories in his life but now just served as a reminder of how much he had lost. He found himself wanting to tell her about them, see if somehow she could come up with the words he'd been waiting years to hear that would make it all a tiny bit easier. Still he wasn't willing to risk the disappoint of learning that she also didn't have those answers.
When he began to tell her about his high school years, the years following his father's death, he found her settling down into his arms. He had noticed her eyes growing heavy as he spoke but she was fighting to stay awake for some purpose. He wouldn't have guessed the reason was so simple as the fact that she just wanted to hear his voice. When he told her about some of the wilder stunts he'd pulled as a teenager she began to contribute some of her own tales. Her first trip to go mountain climbing, the time she chosen to run off for a weekend to go skydiving because it had been forbidden but something she desperately wanted to experience.
Listening to her he let his body slide further down into the bed, so his head was only propped against pillows and no longer the wall. She had her head resting on his chest, one arm flung across his stomach. His one arm was across his own chest, hand resting on her shoulder where he found his fingers absently playing with her soft hair. His shirt had slid up slightly and he felt the satin of her pajamas against his side. Her words were slowly drawing out as she slipped in and out of sleep and he wondered if he too was drifting between slumber and lucidity.
They entered into a light competition about which of them had done the craziest stunt in their life, a challenge that was never answered as they both finally fell into gentle and safe slumber. The last thing Nick remembered was that her hand had found it's way into his own on the arm wrapped around her waist, interlacing their fingers together. He felt better drifting off then he had in too long, nothing could disrupt the comfort, and he feared no nightmares with her so close.
Alex woke early the next morning surprised to find the house so quiet. Usually by this hour Nick was up making more noise then necessary. He seemed to gain some pleasure from letting everyone know that he was up and about hours before they were. It usually didn't last long, but it was on most mornings the first thing that Alex woke to. On typical mornings she would just roll over and get some more precious sleep that seemed so frequently denied her. Today, though, she had plans and the earlier she got started the more she would be able to get accomplished. She also couldn't deny that she wanted to use the rare chance to be the one to wake Nick up.
She slid out of bed, making sure that her feet found her slippers rather then the cold bare wood floor. She grabbed her robe out of the chair by her bed, deciding to go first for a cup of coffee so to be sure that Nick didn't have the chance to wake of his own accord while she showered. She opened the door to her room and looked off down the hallway but it was empty and dark. She grinned to herself, like a child ready to pounce on parents on Christmas morning. She made her way down the hall to Nick's room and noticed his door standing open. Nick Boyle breaking a morning habit of waking her up? It just didn't seem possible. She looked in the room and saw the bed untouched. She knew her friend well enough to know he would not have made his bed by this hour. That was out of character completely.
She turned knowingly towards the door just down the hall from her room. There was still light shining from under the door. Without question Alex realized where Nick was. She had sensed the peace in the house when she first woke up and now knew where it was really coming from. It wasn't just due to the early hour, it was because at some silent hour of the night two people had finally found the rest of themselves. She doubted that either Tangye or Nick would ever describe it that way but the sensitive psychic knew that was exactly it.
She had watched them grow closer with a sense of satisfaction, knowing from the first moment she had seen Nick guide her into the house under his protective arm that they were meant for one another. She had watched as they tried to deny it and fight off the emotions screaming to be heard in their hearts. She had never doubted what the outcome would be. Nick had found someone with equal strength to him but someone who needed his protection all the same. He could be her guardian but would never have to fear that she was helpless. Tangye found someone that would understand her stubbornness, and her need to hide. Also she found someone that needed her rare ability to listen to the things left unsaid. She would never need for Nick to voice his pain, which to him was always the hardest part of being hurt, she would just know it was there.
Alex allowed herself a pleased smile as she turned to the stairs. Glad to see something being born in the house that carried so much death in it. Still she couldn't fight of all her own feelings of loneliness. It had been so long since she had the sensation of reward from a relationship, so long since she'd had a relationship in general. She sighed to herself knowing that she needed to make some changes in her life just not sure how to go about it. She thought suddenly of Gilby Mayhew's handsome face. He was still an hour away handling the closing of the camp. It wasn't out of the question that they would see each other again but he had a lot of things he had to figure out. A relationship probably wasn't high on his list of priorities to pursue at the time.
Alex shook off those distracting feelings as she got to the kitchen and fixed a pot of coffee, once it was made she quickly returned to her room and prepared for her day. A day off from Legacy affairs was exactly what she needed. A few hours when what she was doing didn't hold such dire life and death importance. She just needed to be herself for a day. She laughed inwardly at that thought. 'The Legacy is who you are,' she thought ruefully, 'a big part anyway.' For today she needed to be reminded what existed of her beyond the ancient society and being Derek Rayne's assistant. Old habit made her smile just thinking of Derek.
Why could that man never see what was right in front of his face when he was capable of seeing so many other things better hidden? She had been telling herself for years not to be in love with him but her heart didn't seem interested in cooperating. She could never find it within herself to deny the feelings she had developed over the years for Derek. He was a beacon of strength, had that rare humor she found so endearing, his accent that seduced with a murmur. Not to mention his appearance, Alex saw no point in pretending that Derek Rayne was not the man she was most attracted to over the years. He was her ideal in many ways, an oblivious ideal of course but she had not given up her hope. Somehow the psychic had convinced herself that given enough time Derek would remember that she was a woman. What would her sister tell her to do, 'remind him.' She laughed picturing that scene in her head.
Finally dressed Alex made her way down stairs again hoping to catch the first morning ferry. She left a short note on the table by the door to let everyone know not to expect her until tonight. She would find something to do until then, what she didn't know, but it also didn't matter. She gave one quick look over the foyer and smiled. She knew that she needed a break but her heart also reminded her that she would always come back here. This was her home, a place she loved like few others.
Patrick Wolfe knocked on the partially ajar door of his professor's office. He didn't want to scare the old man in the morning hours knowing how squirrelly the man was around the living. No response came back to him, which was a surprise. Obviously the elderly history professor was here, he would never leave his door open like this. Patrick had been in his advisor's office often enough to know he kept many ancient texts in the room. Texts that were valuable financially but also meant much more to the scholar. The books were his life.
He carefully pushed the door open a bit more so his voice would easily carry around the thick oak door. "Professor Winterburn? It's Patrick Wolfe, we had an appointment?" Patrick asked carefully, afraid he would disturb the professor from work that kept him so engrossed that he forgot about the meeting to schedule Patrick's next year of classes. Still his words drew no response from the room. Growing finally annoyed about being either ignored or forgotten Patrick pushed the door open the rest of the way.
His heart stopped for a moment before choosing a much louder and quicker rhythm to proceed with. He knew immediately that the man was dead and imagined that there would be more bodies found by the amount of blood covering the walls, floor and desk. There was no way all that was from one old man. He saw no other discarded forms in the room except for the man pinned viciously to the wall through the wrists by what looked to be two old bones. Patrick prayed they were bones that Winterburn had in his office for study and not something more gruesomely close to home.
He turned away from the empty eyes staring back at him trying to force the suddenly thick air into his lungs. He wanted to scream, draw someone else to the scene that would be better prepared to deal with such an atrocity but his throat wouldn't participate in the task. He just stood there desperately trying to fight for control of his own body that now needed to focus on the simplest tasks. Except smell, that sense seemed to be working fine as the stench of blood overwhelmed him.
Kristin stopped just inside the front door dropping the heavy bag off of her shoulder with relief. After her long early morning flight she was relieved to return to the house and hopefully some interesting activity. Her mind felt sluggish after so many weeks of relaxing and she was anticipating putting it to work. She brushed her long blonde hair back away from her face and looked over the quiet scene of the entryway. She easily pictured them all up in the control room toiling over some new case, leaving the rest of the house undisturbed and with guilty pleasure she knew that was just what she needed.
The house seemed so peaceful and as if to mock that suddenly the door behind her opened and hit her roughly in the side. "Oh my God, I'm sorry." A new voice said from behind her. She turned to see a small brunette standing in the doorway trying to control the smile on her face. It was obvious that she was sorry but at the same time something seemed to be amusing her. "Not the best place to stand." She said casually and managed to gain control of her grin with that comment made.
"I guess not." She answered confused. The girl smiled and carefully shut the door behind her. She moved past Kristin into the house with confidence that Kristin found confusing. "Can I help you?"
"Ahh nope." She dragged out the first word seeming to give it some thought. She smiled again and Kristin got the distinct impression that the young woman knew exactly what her smile was capable of doing. It was beautiful, seeming to light up her face and the room around her. She could easily manipulate with a look like that. The girl started to go forward into the house quickly vanishing into the back hall without another word. Still unsure what she was doing in the house at all, but certain she didn't belong Kristin followed her. She found her in the kitchen rummaging in the knee-high refrigerator.
"Excuse me." The girl pivoted on the balls of her feet to look at Kristin. "Are you sure I can't help you with something?" She asked again a little more forcefully.
"Ahh yep." She repeated her tone in the hall and Kristin recognized that in the girl's subtle way she was mocking the Legacy member. She was only pretending to consider her answer for the amusement it seemed to bring her. She laughed slightly turning back to her task then something seemed to dawn on her. She stood up, a bottle of water in her hand, recognition on her face. "Kristin." She said loudly.
"Yes." Kristin nodded surprised that the girl knew her name. She seemed suddenly more anxious but Kristin didn't believe it was because she had been caught breaking and entering. She was handling that fact casually, she seemed more shocked by whom she was caught by.
"I'm so sorry, you must think I'm awful. I'm Tangye." She held out her free hand in greeting but Kristin just stared at it confused. "Obviously that clears nothing up. My name is Tangye Gaarlihn, I'm staying here." Kristin reluctantly shook the offered hand, still not sure she should be so trusting. "Derek invited me to stay a little over a month ago. You've been visiting your family in Boston, right?" She was trying to gain control of the situation and introduce a casual element that Kristin was not prepared to allow.
Kristin nodded still very bewildered by the situation. "So you're in the Legacy?" She asked, going for what she saw as the most logical answer. Why else would a stranger be given such free reign in the house with so many secrets that needed to be protected.
"The what?" She asked with a hint of humor but seeing the look of shock on the woman's face Tangye decided not to worry her that she had let out the secret. "Joke, sorry, bad joke. No I'm not in the Legacy."
"Yet." The voice from behind them added to her comment. Both women looked at the precept of the house relieved. Tangye glad to be reprieved from the awkward introduction, Kristin to have some familiar support. "Kristin I'm sorry that she took you off guard. As she said I asked her to stay here a month ago, I didn't want to interrupt your vacation to tell you about it. I assumed you'd figure it out soon enough. Though, I must admit I hoped to prepare you." Derek said with weariness to his voice.
"Don't worry about it Derek, at least she's not an intruder like I thought." Kristin answered, putting her best face on for the older man. He was one of the most respected men in the Legacy not only for his success rate but also his intelligence, she always worked to impress him. He seemed comfortable with the girl and Kristin didn't want to argue with his judgment. Or she wouldn't let her disagreement be obvious so not to offend Derek.
"A thirsty intruder?" Tangye asked now the one confused. The stern look from Derek told her to reign herself in and behave so she let her voice drop. He had learned enough about Tangye to know just what her mind was thinking. "Sorry, again. Just with all the artifacts around here it seems strange that I would break in to steal water, and I'm shutting up now." Derek's even harsher glance told her that her words were beyond enough. This wasn't a time for her jokes, even though he was amused by her observation. What had Kristin been thinking?
"I suppose that is a little strange. We just don't get a lot of new faces around here." Kristin added. She still wasn't sure what to think of the young woman in front of her but saw that she was clearly trying to lighten up the situation and was floundering helplessly. It wouldn't do her any harm to offer Tangye a little support and show that her words weren't offending. In fact she made a good point.
"Tangye if I could speak to you for a few minutes in my office?" Derek turned to the girl who merely nodded. There was really no point in dragging out this awkwardness any longer. Even if he were curious to see what lengths she would go to in order to relax Kristin. "Kristin give me ten minutes and then I'll explain everything to you."
"That's fine Derek." Kristin responded keeping a careful eye on the younger woman. Tangye moved to follow Derek out of the kitchen turning back to Kristin in the doorway.
"Really I am sorry. That wasn't the best of my first impressions. Actually that seems to be the case this week in general." She said confused realizing she had felt the same way yesterday. "I didn't mean to be rude though. Welcome back, good to meet you." She finished with a bright smile, her tone sincere. Derek saw the feeling that Tangye was a threat in Kristin's eyes and was sure the telepath hadn't missed it either. Tangye refused to let that phase her, she remained open and sweet, perhaps a bit too sarcastic but that could be forgiven. Kristin was known for the same thing. He would talk to her and hopefully make it clear that Tangye was not someone to fear.
"Yes, you too." Kristin returned with some hesitation, then Tangye vanished out of the kitchen.